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Thread: Moving into bike/ped planning

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Moving into bike/ped planning

    Just finished my MURP and I'm looking to move into bike/ped planning. In grad school my internships, course selection, etc were more oriented towards urban design, form-based coding, and land use planning, but I'm becoming more convinced that (particularly in this economy) I'd rather go into active transportation.

    I just got back from a regional active transit summit, met some great folks, and realized I need to get serious about this stuff. So I've started familiarizing myself with AASHTO Green Book, MUTCD, and other manuals, am planning to volunteer with some local non-profits doing bike/ped work, and I'm going back to some of my studio projects to bulk up the active transit components in them for my portfolio. I've got a solid grounding in how to read and analyze ordinances from my form-based coding experience, and I'm better than average with ArcGIS, in case those skills could be translated into something more bike/ped related.

    But what else should I be doing? Are there particular hard skills (safety assessments? trip generation forecasts?) I should be learning? In particular, what sort of skills should I develop that will allow me to compete with the PE crowd without trying to become a watered down PE?

    Thanks!

    PS (If this seems like it should be in Career rather than Transit, then a pre-emptive sorry for mis-posting)

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    The only real credential "we" have is a certified instructor. My piece of paper says Effective Cycling, League of American Wheelmen, June 1980, #36. Yours would read League Cycling Instructor, League of American Bicyclists. Look it up.

    There's another program that's less bureaucratized and is growing steadily, Savvy Cycling out of Orlando.

    Here's where I'm going with this: many in the field think that bicycling facilities are "nice" and improve "safety," and help encourage more people to ride. That's not always the case, and even the highest-level "bicycle friendly city" honorees are dealing with crashes (and fatalities) that result from bad planning. It helps to develop a handlebar perspective and add logic to the opinions.

    Example: locally we have a busy road crossing downtown with high ADT during commutes. Another "bicycle expert" suggested building a bridge, hanging it off the freeway overpass, we can write a grant, get TEA funds, it'll only cost a zillion dollars. I pointed out that the crossing distance is short, the traffic comes in pulses (controlled by signals at each end of the block), and it would be much more cost- and safety-effective to build a boulevard and stripe a crosswalk. (City traffic department could make it happen inside of a week.)

    HTH

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks for the thoughts, Veloise (I was hoping you'd chime in). So if I've been a commuting cyclist for 7 years, read Effective Cycling cover to cover, etc, you'd still find value as an employer in LCI credentials? If so, that's exactly the sort of thing I need to know.

    EDIT: completely agree about the over-emphasis on facilities at the expense of good planning, education, etc. Are there any books or manuals that deal with that end of the spectrum?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    My additional thoughts about the bicycling part of the active transportation spectrum are that either you should concentrate on those aspects of promoting and enabling bicycling that are planner-like and not dependent on engineers, or add an engineering credential behind your name (not what you wanted to hear I know). In this transitional time when automobile dominance still reigns, although we know its days are limited, you either take an alternate tack such as education, advocacy, and bicycle planning, or you join the engineers and try to be a subversive within their ranks.

    Secondly, walking is an extremely important element of active living and active transportation. I would suggest following the Walkable and Liveable Communities Institute (www.walklive.org) and trying to become involved in pedestrian issues as well. Almost everyone walks; many fewer bicycle. Another point to consider is that as baby boomers age, many will cease to be drivers while they are still able to walk for transportation.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mobiusstrip View post
    Thanks for the thoughts, Veloise (I was hoping you'd chime in). So if I've been a commuting cyclist for 7 years, read Effective Cycling cover to cover, etc, you'd still find value as an employer in LCI credentials? If so, that's exactly the sort of thing I need to know.

    EDIT: completely agree about the over-emphasis on facilities at the expense of good planning, education, etc. Are there any books or manuals that deal with that end of the spectrum?
    Being a certified instructor has not directly netted me a job, but it is on every resume. Last week I was downtown sitting out front of a coffee shop talking with the future owner of a new bicycle business, and a passer-by stopped to talk with both of us, asked if I could come teach a course at a hospital that's trying to implement a bicycle commuting program. (It is a couple blocks from our first local ghostbike.)

    Speaking of which, the local media was impressed with my communication skills regarding that crash's analysis, and suggestions to improve safety at that intersection/trail. And the responsible agencies will be making some adjustments.

    The only place that's pushing back against the mindless friendliness awards is labreform.org (I'm a member). Check out the "fiendish" and "blunders" tabs.

  6. #6
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    I'd also suggest connecting with the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. A good group to network with and build some connections with the bike/ped community - engineers, planners, advocates, elected officials, etc. They put on the great Pro Walk / Pro Bike Conference every other year, which should be heading to Long Beach in 2012.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Crash analysis and support

    Just this year I've taken the plunge into installing ghostbikes. Obviously this is not something I would look forward to, but...it turns out I'm good at it, and the families involved have embraced it whole-heartedly. Along with that, I've contributed to media discussions regarding the incidents.

    Looking at a street network designed by afterthoughts, it's easy to see where improvements can be made. With the first one, I pushed for ... something. The agencies in charge have settled on the crosswalk signals, and stated that they would swap out the existing ones to add the "countdown" style. I'm about to hit "send" on some analysis of conditions in another situation.

    Not sure where this will lead, but it doesn't hurt to be googleable as a bicycle safety authority. And the ECI certification helps with street cred.

    HTH

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kmneill View post
    I'd also suggest connecting with the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals. A good group to network with and build some connections with the bike/ped community - engineers, planners, advocates, elected officials, etc. They put on the great Pro Walk / Pro Bike Conference every other year, which should be heading to Long Beach in 2012.
    There's a APBP webinar advertised that's being dissed by many of my colleagues. The phrase door zone bike lane appears.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    There's a APBP webinar advertised that's being dissed by many of my colleagues. The phrase door zone bike lane appears.
    door zone bike lane? sounds like fun! door zones are a hot button issue down here in st louis and are being addressed by a number of agencies with varying degrees of success. the recently completed Gateway Bike Plan has brought a lot of local agencies into the fold and has given many planning, engineering and design professionals the resources and contacts to deal with issues like these.

    still, while the content and applicability of these webinars for practical purposes may vary, overall the APBP has been a great platform for exploring the bike ped world.

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